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«Promoting the Indian Use of Indian Resources 11/2008 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and ...»

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Therefore, the BIA, FSA, and NRCS find it mutually beneficial to cooperate in this undertaking and hereby agree

as follows:


A. NRCS will:

1. Provide technical assistance to Indian tribes, Indian landowners, land users, including subsistence agricultural producers on Indian and non-Indian lands. This assistance is provided to facilitate participation in USDA programs for which the individuals, tribes or groups are eligible.

2. Make monetary payments to program participants with approved contracts in a timely manner.

3. Utilize IRMP’s, where available, in the delivery of NRCS programs.

4. Provide available natural resource spatial data of Indian lands to the BIA and Indian tribes, unless restricted from distribution.

5. Make Field Office Technical Guides (FOTG) available to BIA regional and agency area offices and to Indians and Indian tribes. (The NRCS FOTG is available on the NRCS Web site).

6. Advise BIA of available natural resource conservation programs and training.

7. Assist with the development of conservation plans, and/or conservation systems, for the production of agricultural commodities and subsistence agricultural activities on Indian lands that will comply with the conservation compliance requirements of Title XII of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3801 et seq., and amendments).

8. Consult with BIA during conservation planning assistance to confirm the appropriate land owner, lessee or permittee to ensure that all statutory requirements and regulations are completed.

9. Consult with BIA Irrigation Project or System Managers on all plans outlining the conservation and management of natural resources on any lands (including non-Indian, or non-Trust) within BIA Irrigation Projects.

10. Provide annual progress reports of NRCS assistance to Indians, Indian tribes, or non-Indians on Indian lands to the Director of BIA.

11. Certify the design, application and construction of planned and mutually reviewed conservation practices delivered through NRCS-administered conservation programs.

12. Perform spot checks and status reviews jointly with BIA staff on NRCS-administered conservation program contracts located on tribal lands.

13. Work with BIA and Indian tribes to identify technical training needs and provide training to BIA and tribal technical personnel.

14. Conduct and maintain soil surveys under the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program in cooperation with BIA and tribes on Indian lands, working through local MOU’s and agreements, following NCSS guidelines.

B. BIA will:

1. Review all conservation plans that will affect Indian lands to ensure consistency with existing leases and permits.

2. Provide technical assistance to make needs assessments and feasibility determinations for conservation programs on Indian lands.

3. Work with NRCS to coordinate recommendations for stocking rates and grazing capacities, and provide production data and permit or lease information upon request, for the development and implementation of conservation plans to ensure that permitted livestock numbers are not exceeded.

4. Advise NRCS and FSA of existing programs, agricultural leases, rights-of-way or other encumbrances which may affect proposed projects.

5. Assist Indians and Indian tribes in developing conservation plans that will outline land treatment and management required to protect natural resources and comply with NRCS or FSA conservation program provisions, as applicable.

6. Perform surveys and investigations and prepare designs and conservation practice layouts that meet the specifications of the NRCS FOTG and conservation program specifications, and certify completion of practice implementation in accordance with requirements for NRCS or FSA conservation program provisions, as applicable.

7. Maintain complete files of all supporting computations, design data, construction specifications, as-built surveys, and completion inspections and provide copies to NRCS as necessary for contract payment documentation.

8. Prioritize conservation application workloads, giving joint projects between the signatories of this MOU a high priority for the use of available personnel, time, equipment, materials, and funding. The BIA will help facilitate the implementation of joint agency projects.

9. Include provisions that require the maintenance of all installed conservation practices as a stipulation in future permits and leases. The provisions will state that maintenance will be required of the lessee or permittee throughout the prescribed lifespan of the installed practice.

10. Accompany and assist NRCS and FSA personnel in performing quality reviews and spot checks on conservation practices, as determined by the specific conservation programs, during the lifespan of the cost shared practice.

11. Advise NRCS and FSA of existing BIA programs and amendments and provide training as requested.

12. Assist NRCS or FSA to ensure that all statutory requirements and regulations are completed prior to implementing any conservation practice.

13. Advise NRCS and FSA of any changes in tribal law that may affect existing or future USDA programs, to the extent that BIA is aware of such changes.

14. Provide ownership and natural resource spatial data of Indian lands to NRCS and FSA for communication, collaboration, cooperation, and consultation purposes unless specifically prohibited by a tribe or otherwise restricted from distribution.

15. Provide to NRCS and FSA, when available, IRMP’s that have been completed and/or are under development by tribes.

16. Where appropriate, provide easement and landowner information for the installation of NRCS and FSA conservation practices on Indian lands.

17. Notify NRCS and FSA of changes of lease holder on lands under NRCS and FSA conservation program contracts.

18. Cooperate with NRCS and tribes in conducting and maintaining soil surveys under the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Program on Indian lands, working through local MOU’s and agreements, following NCSS guidelines.

C. FSA will:

1. Accept eligible applications for its programs and maintain a record of referrals for projects on Indian lands.

2. Transmit completed offers to participate in FSA conservation programs, as appropriate, to the appropriate NRCS District Conservationist and BIA office.

3. Provide program benefits, including payments to approved program participants, consistent with program rules and regulations.

4. Perform contract compliance oversight during the term of FSA-administered contracts.

5. Advise BIA and NRCS personnel of available programs and technical requirements for distribution to Indians and Indian tribes.

6. Provide technical assistance to the BIA upon their request, subject to the availability of FSA personnel and consistent with FSA conservation programs’ mission, objectives, and priorities.

7. Advise BIA and Indian landowners and land users of FSA programs, notices of local committee elections and other special events.

8. Provide natural resource spatial data from Indian lands to the BIA, NRCS, and tribal governments for communication, collaboration, cooperation, and consultation purposes, unless restricted from distribution.



1. The parties will communicate, collaborate, cooperate, and consult to ensure that conservation programs, practices and plans comply with all applicable tribal and Federal laws and regulations.

2. Conservation facilities or improvements constructed on Indian lands, under NRCS programs, will remain on the land and the operation and maintenance (O&M) shall become the responsibility of the current and succeeding lessee for the life of the practice.

3. The BIA has fire management responsibility on Indian trust lands for all fires, natural or man-made, and will coordinate with USDA on all prescribed burns that are part of a USDA conservation program.

4. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 USC § 450 et seq., authorizes the BIA to contract with, and fund, tribes and tribal organizations that choose to take over operation of programs, including natural resource programs, and services formerly operated by the BIA. However, the BIA is still responsible for the contracted program and remains the deciding Federal official.

5. BIA, NRCS and FSA will jointly review this MOU periodically to determine if changes are needed to meet current policy, laws, regulations and arrangements.

6. None of the provisions of this MOU shall affect other programs and activities carried out by BIA, NRCS, and FSA.

7. This MOU encourages the development of subsidiary cooperative working agreements between tribal governments, BIA, and State-level NRCS and FSA Agency offices.

8. NRCS, BIA and FSA will handle their own activities and utilize their own resources, including the expenditure of their own funds, in pursuing these objectives. Each party will carry out its separate activities in a coordinated and mutually beneficial manner.

9. Nothing in this MOU shall obligate NRCS, BIA or FSA to obligate or transfer any funds. Specific work projects or activities that involve the transfer of funds, services, or property among the agencies will require execution of separate agreements and be contingent upon the availability of appropriated funds. Such activities must be independently authorized by appropriate statutory authority. This MOU does not provide such authority.

Negotiation, execution, and administration of each such agreement must comply with all applicable statutes and regulations.

10. This MOU takes effect upon the signatures of the Chief of NRCS, the Director of BIA and the Administrator of FSA, and shall remain in effect for 5 years from the date of execution. This MOU may be extended or modified upon written request of any of the Agencies and the subsequent written concurrence of the other(s). NRCS, BIA or FSA may terminate this MOU with a 60-day written notice to the other(s).

11. This MOU is not intended to, and does not create, any right, benefit, or trust responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.

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